The 2016 election is already starting to heat up. It seems like we can't escape coverage of it even though it's more than a year away. But will it be a fair election? Could hackers really alter or disrupt the process?
The answer is yes. Advanced hackers could easily alter election results, political Web pages and public opinion of candidates. The reality is that elections are often won by fractions of a percentage so even the slightest manipulation could have devastating effects on the upcoming election and all elections to come.
According to Michael Gregg at the Huffington Post there are 6 big ways that hackers can effect an election, each as concerning as the next:
1. Rig a voting machine
It's easy to imagine a vicious hacker altering the votes on an electronic voting machine. They would just need the simple passcode that is used to access the information and they would be able to go in with their own bug and change what candidate that a person selected. It would be almost impossible to figure out what ballots were accurate and what ballots were tampered with by hackers.
2. Shut down the whole system
What would happen if no one could vote in the first place? It's not something that is completely out of the question! Cybercriminals could use a systematic distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack to effectively disable some or all voting machines. They could even use specified computer coding to stop the back-end voting servers altogether. Citizens would line up to vote only to be turned away because of technical malfunctions.
3. Fiddle with election records
If hackers wanted to, they could go into the election database and delete important data records, change the voting data or even insert fake records to get the results they wanted. This would be as simple as a few clicks of a mouse for an experienced cybercriminal but it could have lasting effects on politics here. Hackers could also delete voter registration forms so people would be blocked from voting at all.